Our family is beginning a 40-day prayer focus for our country, Malaysia. This is a special prayer time that is happening nationwide.
I’m looking forward to this opportunity and thought I would share some of the things we can do, in order to pray creatively and meaningfully.
1. Use our bodies.
Day 1 of the Prayer Focus: Abide in the Vine: Jesus is the True Vine.
We read what “Abide in Me” means:
“When branches are disconnected from the vine, they lose their source of nutrients. They are unable to bear fruit, and will wither up and die. We have the same relationship with God, as the branches have with the vine. Jesus said that He is the True Vine, and we are the branches. When we are cut off from God, or don’t take the time to make sure that we are always connected to Him in prayer and worship, our spiritual health is affected – just as the physical health of the branches is affected when it is cut off from its source of food, that is, the vine.” (Prayer Guide)
I love this image of the True Vine and the branches. It reminds me of how important my own walk with God is, if I am to grow personally and have a successful impact in all the areas of my life – as an individual, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a member of society, a citizen of my country.
As we reflected on this together, I said, “Imagine my arm is the Jesus, True Vine.” (I held up my left arm.) “What if Mama, the branch, is connected to Jesus (I put my right arm to my left arm) but you (children) are not? Will you be able to grow?”
“Each of us must be connected to Jesus, in order to grow. It doesn’t help me if someone else is connected to Jesus, but I am not.”
2. Use silence and personal reflection.
“If we want to stay connected to Jesus the True Vine, we must obey Him, no matter what the cost. What are some areas of your life in which you know you are not obedient to God?” (Prayer Guide)
I encouraged the children. “Let’s spend one minute in silence. Think about one part of your life you haven’t been obedient with.”
We did that.
3. Share openly. Begin with yourself.
After our one minute of silence, I encouraged everyone to share, beginning with myself.
“Today, I was upset at Papa over something I felt he should have done, but didn’t do. It doesn’t matter whether I was right, or if he was right. The point is, that in my anger I said harsh and rude things to him. That was wrong of me.”
One of the children said, “I need to stop glaring and showing a bad face at the others when I’m angry.”
It was good to confess our wrongs before each other. Children need to hear us parents admit where we’ve gone wrong, not just once but as often as is necessary, so that they too can learn how to deal with strong emotions and become willing to acknowledge their own faults.
4. Discuss a plan of action, so you can move practically beyond prayer.
Then we talked about the plans we had, to try avoiding making the same mistake again.
I said, “When I’m angry at Papa, I think I should keep my mouth shut for an hour to give myself time to cool down.”
Puppy interjected. “You need AN HOUR to cool down??”
“Yes, sometimes it takes that long! Or longer, I’m afraid. But we should not brood in anger for too long. We need to deal with it before it gets worse.”
“I’ll speak to Papa after I’ve cooled down a bit. Because if I speak when I’m angry, I’m sure to say hurtful things. If you hear me starting to speak when I’m angry, you can remind me of my plan to keep quiet and cool down first.”
I think encouraging accountability is important.
The child who had the issue of glaring said, “Next time I feel like glaring, I’ll look away. So the person won’t be hurt by my looks.”
We agreed we would remind each other of our plans in our necessary moments.
5. Use maps and flags.
We were going to pray for Malaysia, beginning with the state of Selangor.
I had printed out and laminated (for durability) a map of Malaysia that I found online. I chose a map that wasn’t too cluttered with details, which showed the names of the various states and their capitals.
I had also printed out and laminated the flags of the various states. I used ring holders to hold them in place, so we could flip them easily.
I asked the children to look for the state of Selangor on the map of Malaysia. We also looked at the neighbouring states and I asked them to check in which state their grandmother and other relatives lived in, and where their favourite holiday spots (Cameron Highlands, Port Dickson) were.
6. Use the Internet.
We were also going to pray for the Menteri Besar of Selangor. I got out my phone and we looked online for his name and his photo.
There is nothing like putting a name and face to someone’s title.
Puppy wrote his name down, and we prayed for him, by name.
7. Encourage questions. Be prepared to elaborate on facts so everyone can pray more intelligently.
One of the prayer items was that the Orang Asli children would have equal opportunity to receive education. Puppy asked what that meant, “because I need to know what’s happening otherwise I wouldn’t know what to ask God for.”
I’m glad that girl was thinking.
I explained about the various reasons why Orang Asli children find it difficult to get education. Later I searched for some news reports and research articles online and bookmarked them, so Puppy could read them next day.
8. Take prayer items in turns.
I prayed over one issue, and another child prayed for another issue. This encouraged everyone to pray aloud and the others to listen and express agreement.
9. Play a game.
I asked the children to spend one minute looking at the flag of Selangor, after which I would take it away and they would have to draw and colour it from memory.
It was a nice hands-on activity.
Someone got it right, someone got mixed up, but everyone enjoyed the challenge!
How do you pray with your child(ren)? If you have any ideas to share on how to develop a meaningful prayer time, I’d love to read all about it in the comments!